Review: DESTROYER ANGEL by Nevada Barr

DestroyerAngelNevadaBarrAudioNevada Barr’s 18th novel featuring nomadic National Parks Service ranger Anna Pigeon sees Anna taking a camping holiday in a Minnesota forest. With her are two women, Heath and Leah, and their respective teenage daughters. The trip’s main purpose is for Heath, who cannot walk, to test some new equipment that Leah has designed with the aim of making camping more accessible to people with disabilities. But on their second evening the trip goes horribly wrong. While Anna is off on a canoeing excursion four men take Anna’s camp mates hostage with the aim of holding at least some of them for ransom.

Subsequent to this fairly brief opening the novel proceeds, at snail’s pace, to depict the progress of the kidnappers and their victims to the point where there is to be a rendezvous with an airplane and a shady sounding Mr Big. Also depicted is Anna, accompanied by a three-legged (and overly anthropomorphised) dog, tracking the hapless crowd. If the book had been shorter it might have managed to be suspenseful and hold my attention but it was far too long for its story. At one point I was so sure the end was mere moments away that I sat on a bench outside my office to await the end before starting my workday only to discover there was more than three hours to go! Eh gads!

One of the trademarks of this series is its glorious depiction of the various national parks that Anna is assigned to work in. Here though the physical setting takes a back seat to the psychological one as the story unfolds from the overlapping perspectives of Anna, Heath and the chief kidnapper known as ‘The Dude’. While I am normally one to applaud authors of long-running series taking this kind of risk I have to admit that it didn’t work for me here as much of the narrative is concerned with the inner thoughts of these three central characters and, frankly, they got more than a little repetitive. The Dude’s head proved a particularly grim place to spend time as he was so thoroughly repulsed by Heath’s disability. I’m sure people like this do exist but simply revisiting his repugnant attitude (which boiled down to ‘why would a cripple fight to live?’) didn’t move the story or anyone’s character development along.

As a fan of the series and an admirer of Anna’s pluck I was pleased to catch up with her again and, it’s not a spoiler to let on, see her defeat yet more bad guys (who doesn’t like to see the good gals win?). But other than that broad premise there really wasn’t enough in DESTROYER ANGEL to maintain my attention for the length of the novel and I’d struggle to recommend it unless you are a die-hard fan and completest. This is not a good place for those new to the series to introduce themselves to the indefatigable Anna Pigeon.

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My other reviews of Nevada Barr’s books are HUNTING SEASON (book #10) FLASHBACK (book #11), BORDERLINE (book #15), BURN (book #16) and THE ROPE (book #18)

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Barbara Rosenblat
Publisher Macmillan Audio [2014]
ASIN B00JBHNGMM
Length 11 hours 36 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series #18 in the Anna Pigeon series
Creative Commons Licence
This work by http://reactionstoreading.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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10 Responses to Review: DESTROYER ANGEL by Nevada Barr

  1. Bernadette – Anna is a tough, strong character and I like her for that. And like you, I do love the settings for the novels. This one doesn’t sound as though it focuses enough on those things – shame. I may read it at some point (the idea of camping equipment designed for accessibility interest me). But I’ll probably wait for at least a bit…

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  2. Kay says:

    My mystery group read and discussed Destroyer Angel this last fall. Most of the group was quite enthusiastic about it. I was kind of “meh”. While it did have a thriller type storyline, I missed the usual descriptions of the National Parks. I am a few books behind in my reading on this series and skipped ahead to read this one. Now, I’d like to go back and catch up again. I will point out that many of the members who were very positive about this book had not read others in the series. I recommended they go back and start the series at the beginning. Thanks for sharing!

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    • I’m surprised that people who weren’t already fans of the series reacted so positively Kay. But I suppose they had no prior expectations – unlike me. Glad they enjoyed it though

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  3. Rebecca says:

    This is one of the series I’ve given up after 10 books, maybe. I loved the first few books quite a bit, but I’m not tempted to catch up after this review, alas. Maybe I’ll just reread the earlier ones: the creepy ending in Isle Royal National Park still freaks me out.

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    • I haven’t read all of this series Rebecca – though have read the last few – but I can see that I’ve probably reached my saturation point as does happen with most long-running series for me.

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  4. Your excellent points made me laugh! This is not a series I follow now, and you haven’t tempted me back… so a helpful review then….

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  5. tracybham says:

    I do want to try this series but I will start at the beginning. Thus I will probably never get this far along. I often have a problem with long running series becoming less interesting as they continue.

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  6. Belle Wong says:

    This was, unfortunately, my first Anna Pigeon novel. I listened to it in audio and it was just too much of the same thing over and over again. I did finish it but I really wasn’t that thrilled with it. I probably should go back to an earlier one and give the series another chance.

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    • Oh that is a shame Belle – some of the earlier novels have been terrific and Barbara Rosenblat is a great narrator. Hunting Season or Borderline are both really good in audio and can easily be read without knowing all of Anna’s back story.

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